Sample it, Loop it, F*ck it, & Eat it

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‘Who the fuck wears deck shoes and tucks pressed pastel shirts into pressed pastel short slacks? For fuck’s sake! This isn’t a fucking Prep School away day to fucking Cowes, you wankers,’ Rhian stage whispered, looking beyond the objects of her ire. Her face puckered into a facsimile of childhood. The men clinked glasses of gins and tonics – a slice of lime fell to the ground between them – and laughed with mile long stares. Dead behind the fucking eyes; not so alive in front either. Rhian smoothed her Pop Will Eat Itself tee shirt, faded through infrequent washing since 1987; now more rock burns than material. Sample it, Loop it, Fuck it, & Eat it. Rhian lit another cigarette, slugged from her bottle of (rum and) cola, scanned the beer garden again, and favourited another tweet. The Pastels had pissed off. Above her, vapour trails crosshatched the honeyed sky; dissolute pigeons dropped their lunches in pints, on shirts, on tables. Supposed to be lucky. ‘Is it fuck!’ she said.

Rhian looked about the beer garden (Patio Terrace) to her left and scanned three hundred and sixty degrees. Two women, their twenties some summers passed, stood behind her, now: Louis Vuitton bags – fresh from the midweek market on their crooked arms – as authentic as their bottled tans. They stood, opposite hips thrust out and forwards, legs crossed so their little toes met, puckering, and not speaking. Life imitating life. Do they know each other? They were each holding mobile phones in their left hands and unlit fags in the other; somehow searching their bags, for lighters probably. Two men – sun’s out guns out – slouched yards from them, watching them, smoking Lambert and Butlers. Neither offered a light. What a lovely dance. Rhian watched the men watching the women watching the men. Phones stayed silent, so no one spoke. Have they known each other?

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Deiniol came through the patio door waving at her, unsmiling. He sat down, took out his phone, and sent a text. ‘You all right? Not late am I? I’ll be with you now,’ he said not looking at her. ‘How’s Agatha?’ Rhian could hear the discordant tapping.

‘My aunt? She’s fine. What’s it to you?’ Rhian put down her half-finished pint of Cwrw Haf, stood, bouffed her hair again, and pouted. Winking daisies swayed in the half-filled carafe on the table between them. As she walked towards a table, twelve feet away, Deiniol eyed her disappearing arse, tremulous on unaccustomed heels, swaying over to the table twelve feet away. He smiled, took out a second phone from his breast pocket, and scrolled through a day’s text messages. Rhian stopped, pouted anew, twirling her hair, and thrust her breasts towards two men, pinstripe-suited, Brogue-booted, with open necked shirts, and scrubland chests. Uniforms uniform.

‘Yeah, sorry babes, yeah, I’d love to chat, yeah, but I’m just making money. Doing a bit of business, yeah,’ said pinstripe number one, slicking back his thinning hair with yellowing fingers, grinning at his pinstriped brethren, and winking at her. Ash dropped from his cigarette into his pint.

‘That pocket square looks shit,’ Rhian said to pinstripe number two, standing taller now. ‘Is it your nan’s tea cosy?’

Their voices carried across the shaded patio. ‘What’s she on about Dai?’ pinstripe number two said, looking at nobody, but noticing Deiniol for the first time. Deiniol had recognised him some minutes earlier and was smiling, chuckling into the ether of the springtide sunshine. Deiniol couldn’t be arsed to rescue her. He would let this one play out. He looked at his phone, properly this time, and saw the message from Rhian at 19.30 the previous evening. He clicked the home button without reading it and lit his first cigarette of the day. His official first cigarette. Deiniol had told Rhian, had told everybody that he was giving up, had given up, and was now a ‘non-smoker.’ He liked the idea, but couldn’t be bothered with the pretence. He would leave that to Rhian; she seemed to be doing well enough. He put down his phone and lit another cigarette, zeroing smoke rings through smoke rings.

‘Always good to see you babes, been too long, yeah,’ pinstripe number one said turning, his grey chest hair like an unused Brillo pad, ‘I’ve just got to finish up here, then I’ll be over in ten, yeah.’ He pointed at an invisible watch and winked at her. He pulled down his sleeve. More ash fell into his pint. ‘You here on your own?’

‘Might be,’ Rhian said, heels clacking on cobbles, as she walked back to Deiniol, but did not sit.

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Paradise Misplaced

‘The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven…”

John Milton – Paradise Lost

Sly

Agatha smoothed her skirt, as she rose from the stiff backed chair, and smiled again at Sister Gillian Gayle of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Nursing Employment Agency. ‘Tank you very much. I mean, thank you very much. I will see you next week when I come back for the interview. Thank you.’

Sister Gayle looked up from the tooled, leather-bound diary and held out her hand. Agatha waited, looked at her smiling, took off her glove again, and shook her hand. ‘Goodbye, see you next Thursday at 10.30,’ Sister Gayle was still smiling, but was looking past Agatha to her next appointment.

‘Goodbye. Tank you very much,’ Agatha grasped the burnished brass handle, tutting. She could see Roslyn looking back in through the windows smiling at her, eating peanut sugar cake. Agatha stepped out into the humid air and the unhurried bustle of Main Street.

‘You did here about Merlene and de pickney she had in bush up Buccament?’ Roslyn’s wide, uneven teeth lipstick smudged behind a broad smile.

‘Why you na tell me a dese ting happen so?’ Agatha Evans said as she struggled to avoid the minibuses screeching along the pockmarked highway.

‘Me did tought you did know,’ Roslyn Jones said holding Agatha’s arm, smudging her Sunday best dress with sticky fingers. ‘Dem say she fat like she daddy, but no-one even know who she daddy is from time.’

‘What she did call the pickney?’ Agatha Evans looked across at the Anglican and Catholic Cathedrals, standing together for centuries; divided for eternity. The child could never be baptised in either.

‘Me tink she did name she Roberta, so we know who de farder muss be so.’ They stood again by Big Lloyd’s Butcher shop, where Agatha had waited an hour earlier before her interview. The cow’s head, with its maudlin eyes, had gone.

‘Dat could mean it Robert from Chateubelair or Bob from Calliaqua, or…’ Roslyn stopped and looked at the Cathedrals, before looking sideways at Agatha. Agatha reeled as she thought of the stories whispered, shouted about her father. Shouted at the Rum Shacks late at night, when he would reel around the mountain, homeward; three petit quarts of Mountain Dew firing his belly. All of it could wait and she would be leaving soon. She wanted to say goodbye, but knew there were too many ahead of her to start then.

 

‘Anyway, when you have to go back see Sister Gayle?’ Roslyn said, holding Agatha’s arm tighter as they retraced their steps up Main Street. The sun was at its apogee, but not a bead of sweat glistened between them.

A man of about twenty, in an ill-fitting, much-worn, off-green khaki suit, without shirt or shoes, stumbled past them, turned, and lent on the crumbling wall, by the crumbling verge of a road not resurfaced in Agatha’s memory. ‘Good morning Miss Evans. Anudder lovely day for you,’ he said, reaching higher up the wall for support.

‘Every day is the Lord’s Day and every day he blesses us,’ Agatha said, turning again to speak to Roslyn.

‘Every day is the Lord’s, so you wan come wid me fi de dancehall on Saturday night. We can celebrate de Lord Almighty in dancing,’ he said, still not balanced, but now more upright.

‘Scrampie, what are talking about dis stupidness wid me for?’ I did tell you yesterday, as I did tell you from time, I not going to no dance, no picnic, no film, no nuttin’ wid you.’ Agatha looked down at him, raised her eyes, kissed her teeth, and faced away from him again. ‘Anyway, me father is expecting you in the shop ten minutes back.’ Scrampie, looked at her turned back, but had no comeback, so sauntered up the street whistling.

 

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Visions of the Promised Land

St Vincent, West Indies, 1962

Maudie Lewis had never taken her partner’s name. She once went to church with him, no longer, but read her bible and prayed thrice daily with her mother’s beads. Maudie looked at the clock in the single, corrugated, living space – two minutes past one. She would need to wind it later. A mosquito landed on her arm. She crushed it, screwed her eyes together, crossed herself, and clasped her hands. Opening her eyes, she turned and smiled with recognition. She made to speak. No words came. A knife, sunlight bouncing from its blade into her eyes, ripped across her throat. Maudie fell to the floor, still, clutching her beads.

 


 

‘When you speak with them people, them, at the Nursing Employment Agency, use the English your mother did teach you. They cannot understand Vincey speak,’ Agatha Evans’s Parish Priest had said, as he passed her the typewritten reference required with her application. Father Cuthbert Brown lived in London from 1956 to 1959 and was the go-to man for all references, personal and spiritual. Father Brown would never talk of his time in England, bar the 1957 West Indies tour, captained by John Goddard. ‘Why was a white man captaining the West Indies?’ he would say, kissing his teeth. ‘I know he was Bajan, but no white man is a Bajan. He might be born in Barbados, but that did not make him Bajan. You know they said black men did not know how to lead a cricket team or even a horse fi drink water. Clyde Walcott knew how to lead. Frank Worrell knew how to lead. The white man leads the black man. The black man works – knows his place. That’s the way it is. That is the way it has always been. That’s not the way it will be. Go to England and lead, Agatha.’ He kissed his teeth and looked heavenwards.

‘Yes, I will. You told me to when we spoke after mass last week.’ Agatha placed the buff envelope into her bag without reading the letter. ‘Why did you come back from England Father Brown?’ she said.

‘…and wear something nice. Make sure it’s pressed nice,’ he said, opening his bible to the book of James. “‘Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful,’” he said from memory.

 

Agatha looked at him, but his eyes remained on scripture, his mind elsewhere. She walked out from the vestry, crossing herself and genuflecting before the altar. She picked up her Book of Psalms from a pew, continued along the nave aisle, and through the doors into the Kingstown sunshine. The St Vincent and the Grenadines Nursing Employment Agency stood as ever, across the road from her. Shutters down. Closed.

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From Liberty to Tyranny, to who knows where

Slave Name

‘Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.’ Plato
Will Williams posted the last of his advertisements on the whitewashed noticeboard in front of the central church in Kings Town. Every time he posted one, he read the words but knew, too, that he had a job to do. He was just doing his job. Llewellyn was just doing his job. The men and women were just doing their jobs. Justice. This was justice. Betty, Scipio, Caesar, and Venus had names, just as he had a name. Will had chosen each of theirs. Kofi, Quaquo, Eshe, and Kahina had not.

 

Will walked to the gunroom to pick up The Register that Llewellyn kept so assiduously.

“Slavery is no more sinful, by the Christian code, than it is sinful to wear a whole coat, while another is in tatters, to eat a better meal than a neighbor, or otherwise to enjoy ease and plenty, while our fellow creatures are suffering and in want.” – James Fennimore Cooper: The American Democrat

 

Llewellyn Ap Davies felt the surge, the blood rushing as his heart worked harder. The few sweaty beads, trickling from forehead to chin, had turned into a flood. The ties loosened on his soaked cotton shirt, his hands clammy, and his eyes burning. Llewellyn needed to sit down. A plunge would do him the power of good. Into the sea? Too far away and he had not enough time. He was a busy man. The creek or the river might be thing. No. He knew what was in them. Something else, somewhere else. Yes, that would be the thing. He did not sit. He had not time. Llewellyn stopped and watched as William Williams hammered another poster on to another tree.

‘Who is that whom he is talking to? He could certainly do with a good talking to. He lounges so. No surprise given his poor stock. Is that Betty or is it Molly or Venus? Who knows, they all look the same. Have I not told him about setting an example to the boys and girls? And the way he talks to me. His superior, his better, and master. Where would he be, were it not for me I have often asked him? Who on this very earth, in this Godless heaven and hell does that William Williams think he is to talk to me like that? He is nothing but a peasant. A fucking bastard cunt poltroon, that is what he is and I think someone needs to show him his place. God blind me, I will show that pox-ridden shitkarl his place.’ Llewellyn often practised speeches he seldom made.

 

Llewellyn watched Will depart the woman with a short bow, and then walked over to her. He was out of breath as he reached her, but no less eager to plunge. The creek was just beyond the trees and on that day with the sun, the sweat, the thirst, the hunger; it would be just the thing for Llewellyn Ap Davies.

‘Girl,’ he said addressing the woman from behind her back. ‘I said, “Girl.’’’ Before she could answer, he had clamped his hand about her mouth. She bit his hand. ‘Bitch!’ He punched her in the temple – he would have no trouble from this sow – and grasped her throat, his thumb on her larynx. No noise now from her, no biting. Nothing.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” William Wilberforce

 

Llewellyn heard footsteps, getting louder as they got closer. He heard breathing, panting, wailing. He could not stop. He had started. He could not stop. No one could stop him. A blow to the side of his head from behind stopped him. He felt himself falling, struggling to see, to identify his assailant. He was falling, he could not see. His trousers fell with him. He had to see. Another blow, to his right temple, as he fell. He could see no more. Llewellyn could not think about seeing, now.

Growing to seed

‘Appropriate a culture, pilfer from its dialect, profit wildly from it, and regard its people as subhuman.’ (Big E Langston – Twitter 24/07/15)

The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke – Richard Dadd (1855-64)

A man in off-white breeches, bleached cotton shirt, and blue and gold neckerchief sauntered towards Llewellyn, carrying a cluster of large printed bills, a hammer, and nails between his teeth. He stopped at trees and posts along his route towards Llewellyn and hammered more nails into ancient trees. He stood within six feet of Llewellyn, and would have continued past with only a silent nod, had Llewellyn not called out his name.

‘Williams.’

‘I am so very sorry, sir, I was just making sure everything was in order for the sale,’ William ‘Will’ Williams said as he made a short bow and then looked up, then down into Llewellyn Ap Davies’s grey, green eyes. His freckled face showed fresh signs of sunburn. Will Williams’s darker features protected him more acutely against Caribbean rays. Complexion made little difference to the sand flies and mosquitoes. Like shipwrecked topers, they drank zealously and willingly of the fresh supplies.

‘You had better make sure everything is in order, Williams and that, in case you had any doubt, is an order,’ Llewellyn, wiped his brow again with a greying silk handkerchief, embroidered with his initials above the Davies family crest. ‘This is enormously important to us all. You know that. I do not want you to mess this up. You have been showing an increasing tendency towards laxity of manner, bordering on moral turpitude. Do you understand?’

A mosquito, darted just beyond the reach of Will Williams slap; a slap followed by the involuntary scratching of an unscratchable itch. He mopped his forehead with a dirty rag, pulled from his waistband.

‘Williams, did you hear me? Must I repeat myself again?’ Llewellyn said.

‘No, sir…’

‘…and do not interrupt me. It should be quite clear, even to someone of your low birth that I had not finished. Not close to it. Did you ever discover your father’s identity?’ Llewellyn stood taller and arched his left eyebrow.

Will maintained his gaze, but stayed silent. He stood and waited.

‘What was I saying? You have made me lose my thoughts. If it is not this accursed heat or these infernal creatures, it is bastards like you making me forget everything. Now, tell me, what was I saying? Eich bod mor dwp iawn?’ Llewellyn re-raised his eyebrow, but looked away from the keenness of Will’s gaze.

‘Ie syr. Diolch i chi syr…’ Will meant to continue.

‘Do not, yes sir, me, you ignorant peasant. Know your place. Gwybod eich lle…’

‘Yes Sir,’ Will Williams smiled at him. ‘I believe you were saying that I had an important job to do for a very important man and I had better watch myself while doing it and to make sure that it were done well.’

‘Was! Was done well! You impudent scoundrel. Just you make sure you do whatever it is properly and I suggest you mind this tendency of yours towards insolence. I could thrash you as soon look past you and you had better remember that,’ Llewellyn maintained his gaze at Will’s cracked and torn leather boots.

‘Oh, yes sir. I will sir.’ Will had not moved his gaze from hooded eyes, turning from green to grey and back again, during their conversation.

‘So, Williams, is everything ready? Is everything in order for Monday? It is Sunday tomorrow, the men and women must be ready, and we must make our prayers to God count, in the morning. They do not have a God, you know. We have to show them, the way, the truth, and the light as our saviour told us. You missed church last Sunday, Williams. Why was that? We have to show them the way Williams. I run a tight ship here and I need everything in order. Do you understand my point, Williams,’ Llewellyn looked up into Will’s face.

‘If I can be honest with you, sir, no not really, sir. I think I followed you, but you appear to have wandered off the point somewhat. If I may speak boldly, sir…’ Will Williams was enjoying himself, as he did every time Llewellyn deigned to speak at him. Llewellyn was nought but a broken bag of piss and wind, promoted some distance above his ability and intellect. Will knew that deference would only get him so far.

‘God’s wounds! You know very well the point I am making, Williams, and please do not forget this. So do I! Make sure the men and women are clean. Work them hard today. Feed them well tomorrow. Make sure there are at least twelve bottles, each of rum and claret, and make sure that cook woman has made plenty of whatever it is they eat. We have important guests coming. I want everything to be just right. Just so. Now, do you understand that? But, sort out Minos first, will you.’ Llewellyn briefly looked Will in the eye, but as quickly returned his gaze to the ground. ‘A ydych yn deall hynny, Williams?’

‘Yes sir. I quite understand. The posters have come from printing and I need to post them around about.’ Will made to leave.

‘Where do you think you are going? I do not recall having given you your leave. Well, just you make sure that you do. Have you put them about the church? Now, be on your way. I have not the time for any more of your idle talk. Be on your way and be about your business. Efallai y byddwch yn mynd yn awr. Gadewch!’ Llewellyn walked by the, still, still-smiling Will, waving his hand in the direction of the main town. ‘And, make sure you have The Register ready for the buyers. They need to know what they are getting. And, be sharp about it, too.’

Llewellyn walked away with purpose, looking over his shoulder he stopped to beat down the sudden hardening in his breeches.

Will sat down against a tree – the same Llewellyn had vacated – tamped down his tobacco, struck a match against his boot, and inhaled. He loved the taste of the acrid smoke as it swirled around his mouth like brandy; but it was the bite on his lungs that made every smoke a step closer to Llewellyn’s God. God would have to wait. He needed to get the posters up and distribute the handbills, but he wanted a smoke more. He had noticed spelling mistakes in the posters, but what could it possibly matter, when men and women did not matter to pricks like Llewellyn Ap Davies. Short, fat, prick without half the intelligence of his tiny prick, Will always said.

 

It’s been a long time coming – An Unweeded Garden

‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ (Jeremiah 29:11)

Kings Town, St. Vincent, 1756

Llewellyn Ap Davies leaned back against a coconut palm, kicked off his boots, stuffed, and lit his clay pipe. He rubbed his back against the trunk and smiled into the sunlight. He ran his hand through the remnants of his copper hair. He couldn’t get a draw on the bit, bit down harder on the lip and bit his lip. ‘Fuck it.’ He spat bloody phlegm and knocked out the remnants against his left boot. He had taken them off. ‘Fuck it.’ He stuffed the bowl again, taking more care to tamp down the rough shag deep into the bowl. Llewellyn struck a match and relit it, this time drawing smoothly and deeply into the back of his throat and, inhaling again, fully down into his lungs. He blinked in the light, shading his eyes against the waxing sun. He exhaled. Llewellyn squinted through the pregnant, blooming trees, towards the white, square Palladian villa his father and uncles had built thirty years earlier. They were gone, recently, but the Davies’s of Pensarn, Carmarthenshire had a long way to go. Llewellyn would see to that. He sat further back against the tree; a sharp, welcomed breeze cut across his face and the lit tobacco sparked and spat as he double drew and exhaled. He had work to do. He put his boots back on, rose stiffly, and knocked out his pipe against his left boot – they would need mending soon. They would probably last the quarter. Amused, he walked back towards Tŷ Gwyn Mawr.

 

 

‘Good arfernoon, Mesta Loo,’ a man, naked but for a white cloth wrapped about his middle, eyes averted, stopped, and bowed before him. He stared at the ground around his feet, no toenails on either; calloused from front to back. He stooped always, but now, his back – striated and welted – neared the horizontal.

‘Stand up straight, Ben. I have told you before, stand up straight. And, it is Mister Llew. LLEW. Or Sir, Sir would do,’ Llewellyn said, standing taller and straighter, until he was a head above his temporary companion. ‘Say it again. Say it properly.’

‘Yes sir. Yes, Mesta Loo, sir. I try better. Thank you Mesta Loo, sir,’ Ben tried to straighten again and gave his owner a lukewarm salute and a much colder smile.

‘What are you doing here? Do you not have something about which you should be getting on with? I do not employ you to amble about the place like some dandified gentleman of leisure. There is always work to be done. Have you not got sufficient work? If you have not, I can find you some. What are you doing here? Why are you not in the north field?’ Llewellyn thrust forward his chest, placing left hand on hip, looking only into Ben’s bare, square chest. No hair and only one nipple. Llewellyn stared at the space where the missing nipple should have been. He had often wondered why God had given men nipples. He knew why God had sent him there. He knew he loved God and that God loved him. God loved his family. He had sent them there. There was land. There was money in the land. This was the land of sugar and money. God’s bounty was everywhere. ‘Ond y mae mor boeth, Ben.’

‘Pardon Mesta Loo. I no. I no no. I here to get the…I here to see you ask you,’ Ben said, wan smile, still not looking at his Master.

‘How many times have I told you Ben? I have told you! I have told you all! Speak properly!’ Llewellyn waved Ben away and strode on towards the great white house.

‘But, Mesta Loo…’ Mesta Loo had gone.

Ben watched him go and waited until he was beyond sight and mind. ‘Fuck you!’ he said. Ben did not walk back to the north field, but continued further and deeper, despite the manacles, into the thicket.


 


An Unweeded Garden

An Unweeded Garden

  • ‘I am apt to suspect the Negroes to be naturally inferior to the Whites. There scarcely ever was a civilised nation of that complexion, nor even any individual, eminent either in action or in speculation. No ingenious manufacture among them, no arts, no sciences.’ – David Hume (Philosopher)

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Île de Gorée, Senegal, 1754

‘Humanity was born here – not yesterday, not today. Humanity was born here and it will return,’ Kofi Uwosu’s mother, Malaika, quoted the same proverb every morning as he walked from the family hut, through the village sprawl, towards the sea. When Kofi repeated it to his father, he told him that he did not understand. Kofi was twelve and wanted to understand.

 

The sea provided, even when the land around them would not. The sea brought life to the village. The sea brought trade. The sea bought trade. Life brought and taken away. Addition and subtraction – a balance sheet. The ocean brought and bought civilisation. Kofi’s civilisation extended only as far as the roughly drawn boundaries of his village of forty huts, three hundred people, one king, and many queens. All seen, all known, all present – the men who made the village were the village. Everyone knew that. The men: fathers, grandfathers, brothers, and cousins, talked of other men. Men who came to bring them civilisation. A generous gift from above and afar. Men with different skin: with white skin, with red skin, with brown skin, with skin the same colour as their own, but different. Though different, still they were men, and still they had skin. Men, with their gold and guns and spices and cloth and promises, took away so much more. They gave us gold and guns, salt and cloth, sugar and spices. We did not need them, but we took them gladly. They talked in words that fell groundwards or drifted towards the gods, as their mouths opened. Our words did not reach these men’s ears either. There were never any women. We have women. They had some of our women. Did these men not have any women?

 

“Everybody understands gold. Everybody understands guns,” Kofi’s father, Ganda, said. Kofi did not understand either. Kofi often thought about the things he did not understand. Kofi knew civilisation, he couldn’t explain it, but he knew it. Kofi had all the civilisation he needed. He could see it, walk through, past, and around it daily. What could these other men know? What could they teach him? The other men, with the different or same skin, had not come from near or far since he was circumcised. The day his sister was circumcised. His mother did it. Everyone was happy. They killed a calf. They had to stop eating.

 

Water had been Kofi Uwosu’s life for all of the years that he had known it. Kofi’s grandfather had told him how men came and took men. Men from other tribes. Tribes inland and tribes from beyond the sea took men, but the women stayed. There were too many women, so the king made fewer girls. But, not anymore, it did not matter. There were boys, girls, men, and women, now, and the king said nothing. Did nothing.

 

Kofi’s father had left before him that glimmering morning, as he did every day. That day, he carried his hunting spear and his club. Kofi had watched in awe, seven years earlier, as he had carved out intricate patterns, lines, loops, and swirls like a giant fingerprint on thick, heavy wood. Often blood soaked it. Kofi had wanted to use the club on his father, sometimes, and on his brother more, but he had never touched it. His father said that he must look, and when he understood, only then could he use it. Kofi still did not understand. He woke every day, hoping that it would be the day. His father said many words that he did not know; that was why he wanted to use the club against his skull. To watch it shatter and splinter too see the blood spill and his brain stall and stop. He never picked up the club. He tried not to think about it. It would come to him as it had to his brother. He asked his brother what he had to understand. His brother smiled and laughed at him, but said nothing. Kofi eyed the club and his brother’s skull.

 

Kofi’s father taught him everything. He taught all the boys. They knew their responsibilities; they knew the rules that, if broken, meant damaged skin and bruised bodies. Their duties were to the rules and the rules guided everyone. They did not have to think. Their elders did their thinking for them.

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‘Africa is no historical part of the world.’ – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (Philosopher)

Kofi Uwosu tasted blood; smelled blood. A glancing blow from a carved wooden club struck him, from behind, on the left temple. A left-hander. Blood again. Smell. Taste. Be. Try to be. Focus shifting to a point. Light. Gone. As he fell, he saw his brother, Quaquo, beside him, falling, too, blinking into the endless sunlight in the unending village sky. Quaquo was two years older, but he fell just the same, in time, falling. Everybody’s brother was his brother. Everybody’s mother knew his mother; was his mother. Kofi tasted blood again. He tried to spit. The reflex failed him, as he fell further. Falling deeper. He wanted to open his eyes, but his lids fell, heavier, deeper. Closed. Fallen. Consciousness drifting, and then nothing.

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The Beginning is the End (again)

— It’s been a while since I last posted – life getting in the way of art/life.

Dissertation completed and now replete with an MA in Creative Writing, here  I am, will be back posting at least twice a week (hopefully, if life/art/music don’t lob a spanner in my general and the muses do there thing).

Abstract

An Unweeded Garden, a story of hope and redemption through bourgeoning black consciousness, is an extract from a postcolonial novel in progress set across three continents and three distinct periods within black history. It takes its title from Hamlet, ‘’Tis an unweeded garden that grows to seed’ (Shakespeare, 2008), and tackles the enduring effects of the slavery and empire on St. Vincent in the 1960s and twenty-first century Wales, through three linked murder mysteries. The recurring image of a branded anchor and dragon, and echoes of slavery lead Gwenllian Evans and Deiniol Roberts to explore their intertwined histories, servitude, and their mutual suspicions to uncover murderers past and present. When Gwenllian is found branded, raped, and murdered, Deiniol and Gwenllian’s best friend, Rhian, investigate an eighteenth century murder committed, allegedly, by slaves to reconcile the past and present.

An Unweeded Garden is an exploration of identity and self-expression when confronted with oppression in a state of overwhelming alienation. I reflect on the creative process and the forging of a new black consciousness through research, understanding, and exposition of truths unidentified or concealed. Key inspirations for the story were personal family narratives, my many years studying the slave trade, and the untold history of slavery and the Welsh. My fictional inspirations ranged from Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (2000) and Andrea Levy’s Small Island (2004) to the Harlem Renaissance novels, especially Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945). The prose of black intellectual writers like Eric Williams and CLR James were equally vital to the conception of An Unweeded Garden.

2013+51escher